Cooking With Tomato Paste

Tomato paste often finds itself closely associated with pasta and pizza sauces, but its usefulness extends far beyond these common applications.

Tomato paste is a super-concentrated cooking ingredient as it is made by cooking tomatoes until you are able to strain the skin and seeds. The meaty part of the tomato continues to cook until it forms a thick consistency that resembles a paste.

Manufacturers of tomato paste often include a stabilizer, like citric acid, and salt. Some will also include herbs and spices.

Cooking With Tomato Paste

If you need a deep tomato flavor in your recipe though you still use puréed, crushed or diced tomatoes weather canned or fresh, tomato paste is the ingredient to reach for.

Like with this Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore, that uses a can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes with juices and the addition of tomato paste.

Tomato paste can also be used to thicken a already made tomato sauce. Like with this Yellow Summer Squash Pasta & Sauce.

It is a very versatile key ingredient that will add tons of tomatoey flavor quickly.

The paste can be incorporated into a recipe that is slow cooked to intensify flavor or can be added to meals made in under 30 minutes to quickly add a burst of flavor.

To get the most potential out of your tomato paste, it is suggested to add it early on in the cooking process before adding liquids like water, broth, wine or other canned tomatoes. This way, the paste has a chance to caramelize and develop even further.

The senior food editor of Epicurious, states that when you caramelize tomato paste you’re concentrating the natural sugars in the paste.

They go on to say that the browning reaction also amps up other complex flavors in the paste as it is full of glutamates, which naturally enhance a dish’s umami, or savory quality.

Read Here To Learn What The Culinary Term Umami Means – Umami Ginger Pork Rice Bowls

Tomato paste is typically sold in 6 ounce cans (though it can be sold in larger quantities) which yields about 10 tablespoons of paste.

Some recipes will call for a whole can, like with this Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole, while others may ask only for 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon. Such as with this Instant Pot Nigerian Jollof Rice.

So the rest of the can doesn’t go to waist, just freeze it. Portion out the can into 1 tablespoon servings.

Here’s what to do:

1. Place a layer of parchment paper on a large plate.

2. Using a measuring spoon equal to 1-tablespoon, scoop out tomato paste onto the parchment paper. Keeping each scoop evenly separated over the surface of the paper.

3. Place the plate in the freezer for about an hour or until the tomato paste is firm to the touch.

4. Store the tomato paste scoops together in a freezer bag or tightly sealed container.

The frozen paste will melt quickly in a hot skillet and have the same effect as if it was strait out of the store bought can.

More Recipes Using Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is great for making soup. Like this Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Try these Italian inspired stuffed peppers. The recipe This recipe calls for savory but sweet Italian sausage and 1/4 cup tomato paste made from Italian tomatoes. The rice substituted for Israeli couscous.

These chops are tender, saucy and satisfying as they are smothered with the most amazing delicious honey garlic sauce. And yes, it calls for 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.

Prosciutto cotto literally means “cooked ham.” It’s a popular cold cut in Italy, that is brined pork hindquarter that has been slowly cooked with its skin on to retain moisture.

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